AN ANXIOUS telephone call to Lord's on Thursday alerting the authorities to the fact that the ball was turning "unduly" at The Oval brought Tony Brown, the Pitch Liaison Officer, rushing to south London.
But what he saw when he arrived in Kennington was Hampshire in a spin, as their ineffectual attack was taken apart in clinical fashion by the debutant Scott Newman, who shared a monumental stand of 198 with Ian Ward.
Newman is held in high regard by every aficionado at The Oval. He had scored 1,800 runs in all cricket for the Second XI - a total that included seven hundreds, two of them against a Hampshire side that included three members of the attack in this match.
The fact that Newman, 22, fell lbw not offering a stroke when he was on 99 was a passing disappointment, and the batsman, no doubt edgy on the brink of such a landmark in debut first-class match, had only himself to blame.
He had dealt superbly with the previous 167 balls, but then decided on a change of tactic and suffered for his artlessness. Never mind. On this evidence there will be many centuries in this young man's career, and probably very few 99s. …